Behind the Scenes: I had been waiting for this day and didn’t know that it would actually happen! I remember seeing Sara traveling months ago and she took her mom, Ellen Blakely, and they were traveling with friends overseas. The pure joy Sara and Ellen shared as they traveled the world was endearing and a feeling I have continued to think about. No matter how huge a mogul Sara is, she is grounded and you can see why – she has a strong bond with her momma. Through social media, I discovered Sara’s brother Ford Blakely who is also a brilliant, successful & wonderful person! How did this one woman raise these two outrageously spectacular people?! Speaking to Sara’s mom was a big deal for me personally because as any female entrepreneur would agree, Sara Blakely is the greatest of all time!
Ellen Blakely raised her two amazing children in a way that was a departure from what her own childhood was like. Ellen had loving parents who were very protective. Ellen raised her children in a household that encouraged creativity and freedom to figure things out on their own. This approach meant that when Sara & Ford would say they were bored, Ellen said, “You have toys, you have friends, go play!” Basically, figure out how to entertain yourself.
Ellen Blakely didn’t try to entertain her kids every minute, she empowered them to figure it out on their own! Would Spanx & Zingle exist today if Ellen wouldn’t have encouraged her kids to figure out how to entertain themselves?! (Side note to my three kids – guess what I will say to you for the rest of my life when you come and tell me you are bored!!!)
Ellen shared funny and endearing stories about Sara as a child. Sara started more business by the age of 18 than most people will in a lifetime – babysitting business for tourists, a neighborhood newsletter, sock decorating business, a putt-putt course, lemonade stands. Both Ford and Sara always enjoyed working and both started at very young ages. Ford had to convince a local company to let him work at the age of 14, so it is safe to say that the self-starter gene is alive and well in the Blakely children!
In so many ways it sounds like Sara was destined to be the billionaire mogul that she is today and yet it is clear that the way she was raised paired perfectly with her natural abilities. It was the precise combination that fostered all the right things and talents of Sara.
Ellen’s advice to parents is to let children find their passion, to go with your gut, and for parents not to beat themselves up. Three pieces of advice that I will be holding on to for good! Ellen is a terrific momma who loves her children dearly! It was a blast to hear from Ellen who is one fabulous momma!